21st December 1944

Fog still very thick.  Lay late in bed, after a wonderful night.  About quarter past 10, the house was violently shaken by a rocket, somewhere S. or S.W.  Cleaned cycle, went into town.  This afternoon went round to War Agricultural Committee and saw Capt. Folkard who was very kind.  Collected a lot of books, papers, antiquities, etc. which I had left there, also my paper cabinet, but the filing cabinet which I lent them had quite disappeared.  I suggest Nott has taken it for the depôt.  Decided to leave my drawing board which is used for maps, and they have nothing else.  A glamorous red-head has been added to the staff.  Thelma is still there, dashing about very happily.  Says she is anxious to join the WRNS.  Funny that after all I never had my office in dear old A.G. Wright’s house [former Curator of Colchester Castle Museum] – how odd, I might have had his bedroom, where he died.  Remember so well standing talking to his sister in the dining room [after his death] in 1926, with never the slightest idea that I should ever enter that house again.

Home to tea.  Fog a little clearer, and some bombers beginning to go out.

To Holly Trees.  Poulter even more despondent, about the Museum, my going, the troubles in Parliament and in Greece.  There is now talk among some Home Guard commanders about leaving the Home Guard armed, so as to deal “with any indiscipline among civilians” at the end of the war.

Fog coming on again, the lights in High Street glowing through misty halos.  Crowds of people going home, carrying parcels and bunches of holly, trying so desperately to keep up the old Christmas traditions.  Got to Boxted soon after 8.  Listened to 9 o’c news.  The Government intend to send the ATS abroad compulsorily, into battle areas if necessary.  But one light in the glum – public clocks may now be lit at night.

Trier has been badly raided – what tragedy.  God knows what dreadful damage may have been done to the Porta Nigia and the rest.

The “East Anglian” today records the death on Monday last of dear old Bull of Great Baddow, who for these 10 years and more has been a wonderful friend to the Museum.  The old chap was 82 – had never thought of him being so old.  The last important find which he reported to us was the mediaeval tile-kiln, at Danbury, in the spring of 1939.

He was always so kind to us when we went out there, and so full of enthusiasm for his discoveries.  His work at the Twitty Fee site was very valuable.

On the back page of the same paper is a paragraph about my appointment, in which I am credited with being a member of the Essex Archaeological Society – which I am not.

Coming out through Mile End tonight, heard down Mill Rd, childish voices singing “Nowell”, while some drunk Americans at the bus stop were bawling “Jingle bells, jingle bells.”

Sat down and made a new will – £100 to Rose Browne, all the rest to Father, and after him to the Quakers for relief.  £10 to horses’ home, same to the Van Horse Society for prizes.  All my notebooks, diaries, plans, everything, to the British Museum.  The Colchester “Prospect” of photographs to the National Buildings Record: all my books to the Roses: architectural books to Sissons; any pottery or other antiquities to Chelmsford Museum, the “John Rudsdale” mug to York Museum; horse books to Grubb; the phaeton to the Science Museum, old Bob to be destroyed; the stable to Hampshire; my saddles to Joy Parrington; to Colchester Museum – my best wishes.


Anonymous said...


The £100 ER left in his will to Rose Brown is in today's values £3,973.41.

What is more telling after a list of items to friends etc is the bequest 'to Colchester Museum – my best wishes.' He was clearly not happy (as the journal shows through the years) about how he was treated.

Mike Dennis

Chris said...

Hello Catherine

I am amazed to read that Eric left the equivalent of nearly £4000 in his will to Rose Browne - Rose being the girlfriend who ditched Eric in abrupt and somewhat unpleasant fashion because he wasn't interested in marriage and who then, within months, married someone else without even telling him. Poor old trusty Bob's reward on the other hand is to be put down!

Interestingly, and without wishing to spoil the ending (people might like to stop reading now....), the probate on Eric's will was granted in Wisbech in early 1952, and he left a total of £405. It seems a surprisingly small amount. I would be interested to know from Mike how much that sum in 1952 equates to now. Whatever, it means that Rose would have been bequeathed a quarter of Eric's money.

Perhaps this would be an appropriate moment to say how particularly fascinating I have found the blog entries since the end of September - a really poignant insight into various aspects of the human condition. Following his pessimistic comments on December 18th, how delighted Eric would be to know that his diary has been read by so many. Not to mention the fact that he has had a road in Colchester named after him.

Best wishes,

Chris, France

E J Rudsdale said...

Hi Chris and Mike, Thank you, Mike, for providing the equivalent monetary values for this diary entry.

Chris - I think Eric's proposal to leave a legacy to Rose Browne in his will at this time was also partly due to his own guilt and responsibility for their parting. The relationship ended acrimoniously and I think Eric regretted his actions in how it ended. I think he also realised that he had lost his most likely chance of having a partner in his life because he did not have a permanent girlfriend after he split up with Rose. I believe that poor old Bob was to be put down because of his age (he was aged about 35 by 1944) and it was likely that nobody would want to look after a horse of that age.

After moving to Wisbech, Eric made several more wills in which Rose was not mentioned again and his money was intended to go to friends and charitable institutions. However, when he died in 1951 no will was found and he died intestate and his estate went to his mother's sister, Beatrice Underhill (Aunt Het), as his nearest living relative.

Thank you for your kind comments on the blog. I agree that I think Eric would be delighted to know that his diary has reached so many people worldwide.

With all best wishes, Catherine